Essential soft skills for senior private client lawyers

Posted on 17/11/2022 by Kelly Reid

At the end of last month, I was invited by Women in Wills to speak at their October webinar: Realising Board Potential

Joining Fiona Hathorn, CEO of Women on Boards UK, I shared my knowledge and experience as a private client recruitment specialist as we discussed the issues that both private client solicitors and women more generally face in getting to the boardroom (and succeeding there).  

It’s rare for me to come across private client lawyers with board experience, although I do sometimes see solicitors who sit on law society committees, school committees or are charity trustees for organisations like the Alzheimer's Society.   

However, because it’s not something that we see a great deal of, there’s absolutely a fantastic opportunity there for private client lawyers looking to add something a little different to their skillset or experience, which will help them stand out, not only within their current firm when it comes to promotions but also from others lawyers in the market if they decide to move on.  

From a technical point of view, firms might look for a PQE level, experience of dealing with certain work types, and perhaps even a professional qualification, such as STEP or ACTAPs. 

But just as important, when you get to a senior level, are the soft skills that can be demonstrated on your CV. There are a few skills that law firms look for in candidates time and time again: 

  • Evidence of commerciality and an understanding of how businesses work

This is useful not only when dealing with business owner clients but is a valuable skill to have as a senior lawyer or head of department and managing your own team and cash flow.   

  • An understanding of finance 

This is particularly important for private client lawyers because it will enable you to fully understand the work you’re carrying out on behalf of your clients and ensure you can provide the best advice. 

  • Evidence of strong personal branding 

Having a strong personal brand and being able to properly communicate it to different stakeholders is really important. It will also make you intrinsically more valuable as a potential hire. 

  • Having a network 

Getting out in the community, increasing your reach and building your name locally is helpful when looking for contacts outside of the sector.  

To become a partner at a new firm from the outset, the only way to do it is with a following. This is particularly true of large, regional or national firms where building your own contacts, such as IFA contacts, contacts at charities etc, is essential.  

You can’t get into a larger firm as a partner unless you’re generating 3 x your salary, for example. By taking advantage of opportunities to grow your network by, for example, sitting on a board or being part of a committee, you’ll be immersing yourself in the wider commercial world, raising not only your own profile, but that of your team and your firm, which will increase your billings potential.  

What’s the difference in earnings potential? 

While a junior partner at a smaller firm might earn £70,000-£80,000, those that have a following and fixed share equity partnership can command a £100,000 base salary plus bonuses. So, you can see the value of taking on these kinds of positions. 

If you’d like to develop your career and are interested in learning more about how you can increase your market value (even if you’re not looking to make a move), feel free to get in touch by emailing kelly.reid@realmrecruit.com, calling 03300 245 606 or scheduling an appointment with me.

Essential soft skills for senior private client lawyers

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